Interview with Sarah Cannata – Professional Writer & Entrepreneur
Sarah Cannata is an established writer and Entrepreneur who has a passion for writing and sharing stories. Her big heart and commitment towards helping people through her writing has helped her achieve a position as a contributor to the Huffington Post as well other great sites. As a result of being such a successful freelance writer, she has been able to start her own business writing and is currently thriving at it!
Please tell us a little about yourself. Your experience as an entrepreneur, writer and life enthusiast.
I’m very new to this whole world – I quit my Comms/PR job about a month ago because I wasn’t happy with the direction I was heading in and how I was using my gift as a writer. I felt very hollow inside. The last month has been a whirlwind! I’ve met some fantastic people, learned a lot of new things, managed to get quite a number of projects up and going and I am more confident than ever that I can drive a successful professional writing business that gives back to the world. I am very sure my decision to follow this path was the right one. There is no doubt that I have a tough road ahead of me but I know that when I put my mind to something, I’ll achieve it.
What was the defining “Aha” moment were you knew that becoming an entrepreneur and stepping out into that world was the right decision?
One Thursday morning, I attended a Business Chicks meeting and heard Naomi Simson (Founder of RedBalloon) speak. She had just released a new book and spoke in-depth about being authentic and not letting fear get the better of you. Naomi also spoke about some of the difficulties she faced while driving her own business. I remember walking out of that meeting room very definite about what I needed to do: Quit my job and stop taking life for granted because we never know what’s ahead. I sat on the decision for a couple of days and handed in resignation on Monday. One week later, I was running my own business.
Where do you feel you get the most accomplishment and fulfillment from?
I love sharing stories… Stories that leave an impact on people and make them believe that anything is possible. It’s fascinating to me to go back in time, learn about a person’s past and then write that up. Often, we take notice of people when they become successful but we’re missing the backstory… The hardships, the challenges, those special moments. Storytelling is incredibly powerful and as a writer, it’s important to me that I’m using my gift to tell stories that matter.
When I write about something such as the multiple sclerosis conference that just took place in Rome and write about people such as Kaz Aston, I’m in my element. People like Kaz who are doing such valuable work on a global scale should be recognised – I was very please to see that this particular Huffington Post article gained thousands of shares via social media (Facebook/Twitter etc.).
The word passion is thrown around a lot in our society. How would you define passion and where does it fall with regard to becoming an entrepreneur?
To me, passion is what makes me get up everyday and work the hours that I work. It’s something you can’t control – When you have a real passion for something, all logic flows out the window. I believe passion is essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur and leaving a footprint that matters. I’ll touch on my own experience: Towards the end of my corporate life, I became so intent on what I needed to do (drive my own professional writing business), that I almost felt as though the decision was out of my hands. I had no choice – If I didn’t follow this path, I’d live with regret forever.
I read on one of your posts that you strongly feel that blogging is a way to help open up doors and opportunities. What advice could you share to someone who is considering getting into the field of blogging? Do you recommend any particular resources or tools?
I would say: Write from the heart. As a writer, my best pieces have always come from a place of great passion about a certain subject matter. I remember writing in my former job and a lot of what I was writing, just didn’t have any soul in it. For bloggers, I think their most important resource is themselves and how you go about blogging. You need to be passionate about it, not just doing it with the intent of becoming famous or making money. You need to discipline yourself to keep on writing, even when nobody is reading (we’ve all been there). For me, often, what I write about evolves from what I call my ‘downtime’ – When I’m travelling on public transport, on a walk and so on.
Fear is a common things people struggle with on a regular basis. There is a considerable amount of fear that must be conquered and a great deal of courage to be mustered when taking that leap to either becoming an entrepreneur or blogger. What is your relationship with fear and what techniques or mental strategies have you used to overcome and move forward in-spite of some of these risks?
I acknowledge my fear, feel it, accept it but don’t let it control me. If I said I didn’t have a fear of failing, I’d be lying. I’d go as far as saying that fear is an important part of any goal that’s big enough. For me, an essential part of overcoming my fear is self-belief. I really do believe in myself and that I’ll achieve all of my goals. I know there’s a lot of hard work involved and there will be setbacks, but I really do believe in what I’m doing and that helps me to combat my fear.
What qualities do you feel are most important to have when working towards starting your business and becoming an entrepreneur?
Definitely self-belief, hard work, the ability to network, outsource what you don’t enjoy doing and to be receptive to feedback. No one knows everything or is good at everything. As an entrepreneur, I don’t believe it’s good enough to have talent or to be good at something: You need to have a business mind. I know I don’t know everything but I do question things and seek out the right people in order to answer those questions.
How important is Leadership to you? How would you define a successful leader and what are some simple steps we could follow to becoming a better leader?
I’ve been blessed to have worked with some fantastic leaders… And also people who I don’t believe were such great leaders. Both have been invaluable to me. I believe everyone leads in different ways but I think the most successful kind of leader respects and values everyone. People in powerful positions are no different to anyone else. To become a better leader, I think you need mentors and to be open to learning and developing yourself. Lead by example and how you’d like to be treated and I don’t think you can go wrong.
You wrote an article on Huffington Post about the importance of having a mentor. What would you say are the most important lessons and values you gained from having a mentor?
After deciding to follow this path, the single best thing I’ve decided to do is to work with my business mentor, Anoushka Gungadin. She has been incredibly helpful to me and a key element to our relationship is that we work well together and we’re on the same page. You can’t have a mentor you can’t relate to and don’t have a relationship with. When you surround yourself with the right people and start opening up to possibilities, you’d be amazed at what the universe throws your way. A really important element to my relationship with Anoushka is trust – I have full faith in the fact she is guiding me on the right path. She also asks me the tough questions that maybe I don’t want to answer but that I need to in order to work towards a successful future.
What are working on next that we should be on the lookout for?
I am always working on numerous projects. My biggest is my kid’s picture book series that speaks to young girls aged between 3 and 7. I’m also working with Global Twitter Marketing Specialist, Keith Keller, on a project called Twitter Write. This podcast/eBooks series teaches writers (and everyone really) how to use Twitter to increase their profile and drive their book, blog or whatever else they have up their sleeve. I’m also working with a number of entrepreneurs to help them to share their stories with the world via blog posts and longer articles and so on. My clients often refer to me as their ‘invisible pen’. Of course, I also contribute to the Huffington Post on a weekly basis too.
Any final words for our audience who is looking to take that leap in their life?
Believe in yourself, seek to help others, be brave and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do something. Show them that you can.
Thank you Sarah, and where can someone find you or reach you if they’d like to get in contact with you?
Website – www.sarahcannata.com.au
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CannataAU
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sarahcannatawriter
LinkedIn – http://huffingtonpost.com/sarah-cannata
Huffington Post article archive – https://au.linkedin.com/in/sarahcannata